Oh, Android, you so full of surprises! And we're being honest here, too. Despite having access to a never-ending supply of Android handsets from vendors from all around the globe, it seems like we get to learn something new about the complex OS every few weeks or so.
Unfortunately, these usually come in the form of a splinter of knowledge that quickly gets lost in the depths of our minds. Like a needle in a bale of hay. But for this pick, we went back a few years, and tried to combine these pockets of trickery into a singular pick, while also trying to keep this simple and accessible to as many of you as possible. What's more, we've also made the effort to only include stuff that you can actually make practical use of, though that doesn't necessarily mean we've lost our impish charm.
Find below the 9 Android tricks that we've compiled for you -- you're likely to find at least a few that you didn't know about, and at least some of those could easily end up as a part of your daily routine.
9 universal Android tricks that you probably didn't know about
9 universal Android tricks that you probably didn't know about
1. Quickly call your last contact
One of the most universal, but least used feature of smartphones, is the ability to easily call your last contact. So if you last called your mom, simply clicking the dial button (usually green, true story) will directly fill her number in the field. Another click, and you're calling her. We've come to appreciate this feature, especially when we have to operate today's giant Android flagships one-handed.
2. Skip Voicemail greeting message and more.
Do carriers' voice mail greeting messages put you on an edge? That's not surprising -- who wants to spend 30 seconds of their life listening to the same instructions over and over. Luckily, there are ways to skip these. If you're on T-Mobile, for example, simply press the pound button (#). AT&T users need to press seven (7), while Sprint requires a one (1). Lastly, Verizon subscribers need to go for the star (*).
Good, but perhaps you need more. Thankfully, most carriers allow for quite some shortcuts when voice mails are concerned. For example, you can check Verizon's ones here
3. Save Google Maps for offline viewing
We all have come to love and depend on Google Maps, but a common complaint is the inability to explore maps offline. This is especially unpleasant if you're in a foreign country. Thankfully, Google allows you to make certain areas available for viewing even when offline, though it's kind of limited. I.e. you can't save an entire country's map, but this still comes in handy if you're aware of the area you'll be needing navigation for.
So how does it work? It's simple, navigate to a given area, and type "Ok maps" in the search window. This will save the area you're looking at for later viewing.
4. Navigate to quick toggles with a single swipe
How often do you swipe your notification bar only to then swipe/click again to get to quick toggles/settings? Chances are, often. Well, for a while now, there's been a quicker way to getting there by simply swiping from the top with two fingers. We can confirm that this works on most popular devices out there.
5. Don't type, swipe!
There are dozens of keyboards for Android out there, but not all of them come loaded with a specific piece of functional goodness that we've seriously come to depend on: gesture typing. This is the type of feature that makes people drop their jaw a little when they see it work for the first time. Simply put, gesture typing allows you to swipe your finger over the letters that make up the word you have in mind, and it works near flawlessly for the most part. What's more, gesture typing let's you type with a single hand, and fast.
If you have Google's Keyboard, you can enable gesture typing from Languages and Input > Google Keyboard Settings. The feature is also available with some third-party keyboards.
6. More on Google's Keyboard
Everyone has different preferences, but for us, the stock Google Keyboard is among the very best solutions out there for a number of reasons. Letters are large and uncluttered, and we like the extra customization options available from the Advanced Settings menu in the Google Keyboard settings.
For example, the keyboard has a profanity filter on by default, which you can remove. Moreover, if the reality of having to switch to a different page every time you need to input a number, then rest assured that there's a workaround. As you probably know, the topmost row of letters includes digits from 0 to 9. Long-pressing said letter will input the digit, but you usually have to hold for a while. This is frustrating if you need to input a few short digits. Luckily, you can edit the long-press duration needed to input a number down to almost zero. This makes inputting the occasional digit a breeze.
7. Free responsiveness boost
Depending on your specific version of Android, animations in-between opening and closing app, or even the drawer, can be quite extensive. If you have a device that suffers from poor performance, these can magnify the issue, and make your device feel extra slow. There's a work-around, however, as you can actually disable these animations entirely, or at least speed them up.
You'll need Developer privileges, so go to Settings > About Phone > tap Build number 7 times > and you're a developer. Now go back to the root settings menu, and look for Developer Options. Scroll down and look for the 'Drawing' section, and you should see Window animation scale, Transition animation scale, and Animator duration scale. Tweak all of these to your preference.
8. Gaming galore
If you have a knack for gaming on your mobile device, and it's powerful enough, you can force 4x MSAA for OpenGL ES 2.0 apps in the Developer options menu. Anti-aliasing, as some of you may know, smooths the edges of graphical objects, improving image quality in the process. Of course, this option is heavy on the processor, so it may not be suitable for every device.
9. Bonus: prank a friend
Life's too short to always be dead serious, which is why we'll let you in onto a personal prank favorite of ours, instead of something actually useful. This being PhoneArena, it obviously has to include a smartphone, and Android's developer options thankfully allow for such mischievery. Once again, navigate inside said menu, and activate the three options you see on the side on a unsuspecting friend's device. In our own experience, there's a 50-50 chance that your sneaky actions will produce some camera-worthy bewilderment.